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Reporting From the Front

The Writing 69th

After writing one too many stories about troops who had taken off to bomb Germany never to come back, Andy Rooney, along with seven other World War II correspondents, wanted to see the action.

After weeks of begging, the reporters finally got their wish and were sent to gunnery school for a week of intensive training to prepare for the assignment. Despite their noncombatant status as journalists, the military insisted the reporters, who dubbed themselves the “Writing 69th,” needed to have enough combat knowledge to be helpful in case something went wrong during the flight.

Andy Rooney

“We were shot at,” Rooney told On Patrol in 2011. “I was at mid-side gunner. I operated a gun even though I was a correspondent. We weren’t supposed to, but I mean I was up there, and all the other guys were shooting so I had to pay my way.”

“I fired at every German fighter that came into the neighborhood,” Walter Cronkite wrote in his 1996 book, “A Reporter’s Life.” “I don’t think I hit any, but I’d like to think I scared a couple of those German pilots.”

Their planes were damaged, but Rooney and Cronkite made it back alive. One of their colleagues wasn’t as lucky. New York Times reporter Bob Post and the B-24 bomber he was flying in were never found.

Over 1,600 war correspondents flocked to the European and Pacific theaters during WWII to report back to millions of Americans back home.

Some correspondents, like Associated Press reporter Daniel De Luce, were newly minted storytellers with little experience. He worked at the AP for a decade before the war, first on and off as a copyboy and later as a reporter in Europe in 1939.

Dan DeLuce and his wife Alma

Dan De Luce and his wife, Alma pose for a photo during a farewell gathering in March 1939. A few days later they were in New York waiting to travel to Normandy, France. | Photo credit Photo courtesy of Richard De Luce

De Luce wrote stories from the European, African and Russian fronts, including a 1944 Pulitzer Prize-winning story about partisans in Yugoslavia.

“Gee, I was thrilled to death, it seemed so romantic,” De Luce said in Karen Rothmyer’s book, “Winning Pulitzers: The Stories Behind Some of the Best News Coverage of our Time.” “I had this idea that I wanted to go over and see what was happening.”

Walter Cronkite’s War

Other correspondents, like the United Press’ Cronkite, were experienced but relatively unknown journalists at the beginning of the war. They hoped reporting overseas would help them make a name in the business. Cronkite, who dropped out of the University of Texas for a reporting job at the Houston Post, worked a series of print and radio gigs before joining the UP in 1939. After years of begging to be sent to cover the war in Europe, he got his wish in 1942.

Far from a veteran reporter, Cronkite still started the war off with considerably more experience than Rooney, a Stars and Stripes scribe who edited his college newspaper

Though journalists battled both technology and censors, they were mostly free to report anything they dared to get out and see.

“They let those guys do what they needed to do,” said Brian Rooney, who covered the Gulf War. “There was some censorship [in WWII], but they allowed them to be reporters.”

Brian Rooney

From the beginning, Stars and Stripes gave Andy Rooney his own jeep, which allowed him to roam and write poignant profiles on officers, GIs and everyday people at war.

“My father did a story about this touching scene about a popular officer dying,” Brian Rooney said. “And [the military] would allow that kind of stuff to be published because they had free access.”

From Correspondents to Legends

After the war, a few of the correspondents who gained fame at war went on to become journalism icons.

Cronkite worked for years at CBS as an anchor and editor, earning the reputation as the “most trusted man in America.” Rooney also made a name for himself on CBS and hosted the “A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney” segment on “60 Minutes” from 1964 to 2011.

De Luce, never transitioned into the broadcast world, but he reported for AP as a foreign correspondent for 17 years before ending his career with the organization as an executive in New York.

They all said their time as WWII correspondents were some of the most formative years of their lives.

“It was an exciting time,” Rooney told On Patrol. “It was a great experience and I was lucky to come through it alive.”

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War Correspondent Humor – 

 

Political cartoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Donald Carragher – Newark, NJ; US Navy, WWII, ETO, SeaBee signalman

Margery Deluco (100) – OH; US Army WAC, WWII, ETO, nurse

Burt C. Frank – Ravenna, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, pilot

Owen Garriott – Enid, OK; US Navy, / NASA, pilot, Astronaut

David Hart (101) – Montreal, CAN; Canadian Army, WWII,Sgt. / Lt. Colonel (Ret. 24 y.)

Robert Oakley – Long Island, NY; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 511/11th Airborne Division

Salvatore Privitera – Hartford, CT; US Army, WWII, combat engineer

Robert ‘Bruce’ Strick – Portland, OR; US Army, WWII

Richard Thomson – League City, TX; US Navy, Pearl Harbor, Seaman 2nd Class, USS Oklahoma, KIA

Robert Wallace – Pensacola, FL; US Navy, WWII, ETO, PBY pilot

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Type 4 Ceramic Grenades

Type 4 Ceramic Grenade

Grenades have long been used in warfare across the world. However, their manufacture requires certain industrial materials and production lines.

In the closing stages of WWII, strategic bombing had decimated Japanese industrial infrastructure, leading to the development of a last-ditch weapon: the Type 4 grenade.

The Type 4 is also known as the “ceramic grenade” because it was made of porcelain or terracotta. These were materials which could be found at the end of the war when more traditional grenade materials were in short supply.

The Imperial Japanese Navy Technical Bureau came up with the idea for this new weapon. It was easy to make and cheaper to produce than traditional grenades at the time. This new weapon was to be used by the general populace of the country in the event of an Allied invasion.

To mass produce these grenades, kilns which were normally used for Japanese pottery were forced into service. The grenades that were produced by the kilns were cruder than traditional shells but were still able to do their job. There was also a significant variation in color, size, and shape as each kiln created a different form of the weapon.

The average Type 4 grenade measured around 80mm in diameter although, as stated above, the size would vary depending on the kiln producing them. The grenades were generally unmarked and completely plain.

The kilns also made them in varying shades of tan and brown. There were some which were completely white, but they were in the minority. While the grenades were made from porcelain or terracotta, they were not left untreated. They were lightly glazed both inside and out.

Despite the materials being used, the grenade would only weigh about one pound (453g) making it easy for soldiers to throw or carry around.

As with many other grenades at the time, the Type 4 was a spherical shape. It also had a bottleneck which included a wood friction fuse. The grenades came with a separate scratch block lid and rubber covering on the top which needed to be removed before the grenade was activated.

When it came to using this weapon, soldiers had to act quickly. To ignite the grenade, the rubber covering would need to be removed, and the match compound lit. This was done with the scratch block and worked in a similar manner to a road flare.

Once the fuse was lit, there was no way to stop it without destroying the whole fuse. To ensure that there was enough time for the grenade to reach enemy fighters, there was a four to five-second delay. After this time, the lit fuse would come into contact with the explosive materials inside.

Many of the Type 4s had a lanyard which was used to carry and throw them. A US Army intelligence bulletin from March 1945 stated that these grenades were easy to throw. The bulletin also listed some of the potential drawbacks of this last-ditch weapon.

Other than the fact that the grenade had to be thrown as soon as it was lit, care also had to be taken to ensure that the shell would not hit any hard objects before reaching the intended target. Should this happen, the grenade would shatter and become useless.

Ceramic Grenade pile,
pic courtesy of Japan Bullet

The grenade was also viewed in the bulletin as a concussion weapon. The explosion resulted in a large blast, but little in ceramic fragmentation which caused the most damage. This could be due to the materials used to create the grenades.

The Type 4 grenade was not a real game-changer in the war, but it was an ingenious invention. It was supplied to the Volunteer Fighting Corps as well as reservist organizations. There are also accounts that large numbers of them were sent to the front line troops.

These grenades were used by the Japanese in both the Battle of Okinawa and the Battle of Iwo Jima.

From War History on-line.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Keith Andrews Toronto, CAN; RAF, WWII, pilot instructor

Kenneth Bailey – Easton, MD; US Navy, WWII & Korea, USS Sangamon, (Ret. 24 y.)

Earl Thomas Conley – Jamestown, OH; US Army / country singer

Kenneth Deal – Shreveport, LA; US Merchant Marines, WWII, Troop Transport / US Army 313th Engineers

Max Gaberseck – Coudersport, PA; US Marine Corps, Gulf War, Sgt. (Ret. 21 y.)

John Hooten – Joppa, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII & Korea (Ret. 24 y.)

James Kounanis – Chicago, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO

Harold Poff – Roanoke, VA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 221st Medical/11th Airborne Division

Eugene Richard “Butch” Skoch – East Meadow, NY; Vietnam, Pfc, KIA

Joan Whittow – Liverpool, ENG; British Army, WWII

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Willie, Joe, and Bill in WWII

A MAN WHO SPOKE FOR THE REGULAR SOLDIER AND KEPT HIM SMILIN’ – BILL MAULDIN!!

PROFILES IN COURAGE

Courtesy of a veteran friend I “met” while on JibJab; a considerable amount of my postings on PWE came from e-mails received from him.

Willie, Joe, and Bill in WWII

Get out your history books and open them to the chapter on World War II.  Today’s lesson will cover a little known but very important hero of whom very  little was ever really known. Here is another important piece of lost U.S. History.

securedownload1

Makes ya proud to put this stamp on your  envelopes… 

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Bill Mauldin  stamp honors grunt’s hero. The post office gets a lot of criticism. Always has, always will. And with the renewed push to get rid of Saturday mail  delivery, expect complaints to intensify. But the United States Postal Service deserves a standing ovation for something that happened last month:

Bill Mauldin got his own postage  stamp.

Mauldin died at age 81 in the early days of…

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Japan’s Underwater Aircraft Carriers – conclusion

American naval personnel inspect the hangar of a Japanese submarine aircraft carrier. The hangar tube was sealed by a two-inch-thick rubber gasket, and the hatch could be opened hydraulically from inside

By early 1945, the Japanese Navy had only 20 modern submarines left, including those in the Sen-toku squadron. Problems arose as the two available I-400 subs began test launching their Sieran planes. Each submarine was required to surface and get its three planes unlimbered and aloft within 30 minutes, but actual training showed that it took some 45 minutes.

Because of an increasing sense of urgency, the Japanese further modified their plans. A torpedo attack was ruled out because the pilots had not yet acquired the requisite skills. It was decided that each of the 10 planes designated for the Panama Canal mission would carry one 1,760-pound bomb, the largest in the Navy’s arsenal and similar to the one that sank the battleship USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor

The departure date was set for mid-June.  The Seiran pilots made practice bombing runs in Nanao Bay against a full-sized replica of the Gatun gates.

The fall of Iwo Jima in March 1945 and the American attack on Okinawa increased the angst among the Japanese planners as the Americans closed in on the home islands. The war had leaped ahead of the planners, and the slated attack on the Panama Canal was canceled. As noted, there were discussions about possibly using the planes in a surprise attack on San Francisco or Los Angles, but those, too, were put aside in favor of a plan to attack enemy carriers at Ulithi, a large staging area near the island of Truk in the Carolines that was used by the Americans.

Mail call on Ulithi, 1945

The two large subs were to proceed toward Ulithi independently for safety and then rendezvous near the target and launch the attack in mid-August. The I-13 never made it to Truk and was correctly presumed lost. The I-14 arrived at Truk on August 4, and its planes flew over Ulithi the following day.

Shortly thereafter word reached the submarines that an atomic bomb had destroyed Hiroshima, and on August 15 the Japanese seamen heard the broadcast from the emperor asking his warriors to lay down their arms. Subsequent orders from the homeland were confusing, with one commanding all submarine captains to execute their predetermined missions. On August 16, the underwater aircraft carriers received explicit orders that their planned attack on Ulithi had been canceled just hours before the I-401 was to launch its planes. The subs were ordered to Kure, and the I-401 turned course toward its fateful encounter with Lt. Cmdr. Johnson and the Segundo.

The Japanese eventually surrendered the I-401 and the other two remaining underwater aircraft carriers. Commander Ariizumi, the developer of the top secret subs, took his own life aboard the I-401 and was quietly buried at sea by the crew. Before encountering the Americans, Nambu had meticulously followed orders from Japan to raise the black flag of surrender and dispose of the vessel’s weapons, including the planes that were catapulted into the sea. Logbooks, code-books, and the like were loaded into weighted sacks and tossed overboard. The torpedoes were jettisoned, with one causing alarm as it circled back toward the large submarine before disappearing harmlessly into the depths.

The Japanese aircraft carrier submarines I-14, I-400, and I-401 are shown in Tokyo Bay at the end of the war. The submarines were destined to be sunk in Hawaiian waters during U.S. Navy torpedo tests.

The three submarines drew considerable attention when they made it back to Tokyo Bay.  Many Americans initially believed the large hangars atop the subs had been designed to haul supplies to troops on distant islands despite the clearly observed catapults. The Americans did receive some assistance from the Japanese crews as they tried to comprehend the purpose of the extraordinary submarines, and by the end of September the Americans had taken the submarines out for cruises. However, none was taken underwater.

The submarines were then taken to Hawaii for further study. The U.S. Navy gleaned what it could from them, and then all three were deliberately sunk by early June 1946 to keep them away from the prying eyes of the inquisitive Soviets.

One of the Seirans did make it to the United States after the war and was eventually restored at an estimated cost of $1 million. It is now on display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Although the U.S. Navy was somewhat dismissive of the massive submarines, it did take a keen interest in the sound-protective coatings used on the vessels.

There is little doubt that the I-400s were the strategic predecessors to today’s ballistic submarines, especially to the Regulus missile program begun about a decade after World War II that carried nuclear warheads inside waterproof deck hangars. In short, Yamamoto’s plan lived on with “new and improved” versions that helped the United States win the Cold War.

This has been condensed from: Phil Zimmer is a former newspaper reporter and a U.S. Army veteran. He writes on World War II topics from Jamestown, New York.

The wreck of IJN !-401 was located in March 2005.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ronald D. Brown – Pembroke, KY; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT

They stand on the line for us.

Richard E. Cole -(103) – Comfort, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Doolittle’s co-pilot, Lt. Colonel (Ret. 26 y.)

Robert Hendriks – Locust Valley, NY; USMC, Afghanistan, Cpl., 25th Marine Reg./4th Marine Division, KIA

Benjamin Hines – York, PA; USMC, Afghanistan, Sgt., 25th Marine Reg./4th Marine Division, KIA

Delmar Jones – Sesser, IL; US Army, WWII

Venizelos Lagos – Culpepper, VA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Virgil Patterson – FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Christopher Slutman – Newark, DE; USMC, Afghanistan, SSgt., 25th Marine Reg./4th Marine Division, KIA

Ly Tong – VIET; South Vietnam Air Force, Black Eagle Fighter Squadron, pilot, POW

Bryan Whitmer – Grand Rapids, OH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, HQS/457 Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Japan’s Underwater Aircraft Carriers – part one

Lieutenant Commander Stephen L. Johnson had a problem on his hands; a very large problem. His Balao-class submarine, the Segundo, had just picked up a large radar contact on the surface about 100 miles off Honshu, one of Japan’s home islands, heading south toward Tokyo.  World War II in the Pacific had just ended, and the ensuing cease fire was in its 14th day. The official peace documents would not be signed for several more days.

As Johnson closed on the other vessel, he realized it was a gigantic submarine, so large in fact that it first looked like a surface ship in the darkness. The Americans had nothing that size, so he realized that it had to be a Japanese submarine.

This was the first command for the lanky 29-year-old commander. He and his crew faced the largest and perhaps the most advanced submarine in the world. The Japanese I-401 was longer than a football field and had a surface displacement of 5,233 tons, more than three times the Segundo’s displacement. More troubling though was the sub’s bristling weaponry that included a 5.5-inch gun on her aft deck, three triple-barreled 25mm antiaircraft guns, a single 25mm gun mounted on the bridge, and eight large torpedo tubes in her bow.

During a brief ceremony aboard one of the aircraft carrier submarines, the Japanese naval ensign is lowered and replaced by the Stars and Stripes as the vessel is turned over to the control of the U.S. Navy after Japan’s surrender

The large sub displayed the mandatory black surrender flag, but when the Segundo edged forward, the Japanese vessel moved rapidly into the night. The movement and the continuing display of the Rising Sun flag caused concern.  Johnson’s vessel pursued the craft that eventually slowed down as dawn approached. He brought his bow torpedo tubes to bear on the craft as the two vessels settled into a Mexican standoff.

Johnson and his crew had received permission by now to sink the reluctant Japanese vessel if necessary, but he realized he had a career-boosting and perhaps a technologically promising prize in his sights. Much depended on this untried American submarine captain and his wily opponent in the seas off Japan.

Little did Johnson know that the Japanese submarine was a part of the I-400 squadron, basically underwater aircraft carriers, and that the I-401 carried Commander Tatsunosuke Ariizumi, developer of the top-secret subs initially designed to strike the U.S. homeland in a series of surprise attacks. Ariizumi was considered the “father of the I-400 series” and a loyal follower of the emperor with years of experience in the Japanese Navy, so surrender was a disgrace he could not endure

Johnson also had to contend with Lt. Cmdr. Nobukiyo Nambu, skipper of the I-401, who traced his combat experience back to Pearl Harbor. He now commanded the world’s largest submarine designed to carry three state-of-the-art attack planes in a specially built hanger located atop the vessel. These secret Aichi M6A1 planes were initially designed for “a second Pearl Harbor” or another surprise attack, possibly even against New York City or Washington, D.C. The I-400 series submarines were themselves full of technological surprises.  They were capable of traveling around the world one and a half times without refueling, had a top surface speed of 19 knots (or nearly 22 miles per hour), and could remain on patrol for four months, twice as long as the Segundo.

Neither Nambu nor Commander Ariizumi readily accepted the emperor’s surrender statement when it was broadcast on August 15. The subsequent communiqués from Tokyo were exceptionally confusing, especially Order 114, which confirmed that peace had been declared – but that all submarines were to “execute predetermined missions and attack the enemy if discovered.”

It was Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander of Japan’s Combined Fleet and developer of the Pearl Harbor attack, who called for the construction of the I-400 series some three weeks after Pearl Harbor.  Once Japan was committed to war, he believed that submarine aircraft carriers dropping bombs “like rain” over major U.S. cities would surely cause the American people to “lose their will to fight.” A second surprise attack with even more to come would prove psychologically devastating to the Americans.

Yamamoto called for the construction of 18 of the massive submarines carrying a total of 36 attack planes. The name of the special submarine class was abbreviated to Sen-toku.

The attack planes had to be designed from scratch. The need for speed, range and a decent sized bomb payload required tradeoffs. The wings had to be foldable to fit inside the tube, or hangar, atop the submarine. The design work, testing, and building of the plane was outsourced to the Aichi Aircraft Company.

The I-400 program did have its detractors in the heavily bureaucratic Imperial Japanese Navy.  After the defeat at Midway in early June 1942, Japan became more focused on defending the homeland and far less on possible attacks on the U.S. mainland using the large submarines. The death of Yamamoto in mid-April 1943, played further into the hands of conservative Japanese commanders. Cutbacks were ordered in the number of submarines to be built.  .

The first test flight of the Aichi attack plane occurred on November 8, 1943. The plane, called Seiran or “storm from a clear sky,” reportedly handled fairly well as the world’s first sub-borne attack bomber. The Japanese began compiling limited available information on the heavily fortified Panama Canal. Their analysis showed that destroying the gate opening onto Gatun Lake would create a massive outpouring of water, destroying the other gates in its path while rushing toward the Caribbean Sea.

After weeks of planning, the Japanese came up with a strategy to attack the Gatun locks at dawn when the gates were closed and presumably the defenses were lax. The planners had nearly a full year to formulate the attack for early 1945. But there were problems ahead because none of the submarines were complete and the planes were not yet in the production stage.

I-400 Class submarine

The Japanese labored on, and by the end of 1944 the I-400 and the smaller I-13 were completed and turned over to the Navy. In early January 1945, the I-401 was commissioned  and the I-14, the last of the underwater aircraft carriers, was put into service by mid-March 1945.

As an important aside, it should be noted that while preparations for the attack on the Panama Canal went forward, Vice Admiral Jisaburo Ozawa, vice-chief of the Naval General Staff, floated another idea for the use of the Sen-toku submarines. He suggested arming the Seiran planes with biological weapons to be unleashed against a populated area on the West Coast of the United States.

Dr. Shiro Ishii, Japan’s top virus expert and head of the Army’s notorious 731 unit in Manchuria, was consulted. He recommended that the planes drop plague-inflected fleas, something he had tested with success in China, on the United States with San Francisco, Los Angeles, or San Diego suggested as targets. The plan was discarded in late March by the head of the Army’s general staff who called it  “unpardonable on humanitarian grounds.”

In effect, the Japanese Army, which had led the development of biological weapons and had tested them on Chinese and American captives, nixed the idea of using the weapons late in the war on American civilians, perhaps in the belief that the war was already lost.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Ernest Bargiel – Trafford, PA; US Army, WWII, medic

Alzena McNabb Bibb (99) – Corbin, KY; US Navy WAVE, WWII

Paul Copenhaver – Syracuse, NE; USMC, WWII, 3rd Marines

Ewell Foglemann – Dallas, TX; US Army, WWII, ETO, Pfc, Co. C/112/5th Engineer Corps

Ada Kirk (100) – Waipukurau, NZ; RAF # 895704, WWII, Cpl.

Donald Lawson – Elgin, KS; US Navy, WWII

Meddie Mojica – Asis, Cavite, PI; Filipino guerrilla & US Navy, WWII

William T. O’Keefe – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Mark Smith – Indianapolis, IN; USMC, Iraq, Colonel (Ret. 32 y.)

Jesse Weber – Arvada, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII, pilot

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Crazy Inventions Emerge from WWII

Inflatable Decoy Tank

The desire to outwit the enemy and achieve military success can lead to unplanned military inventions during periods of war. Among these many developments and inventions, one can often see how a creative approach led to interesting results. The following is a list of unusual inventions from the Second World War, though of course it is by no means a complete list.

Inflatable tanks

World-renowned fashion designer Bill Blass fought during the Second World War in the U.S. Army’s 603rd Camouflage Battalion. This special unit had the goal and means for misinforming the enemy about the location of Allied forces.

One of the means for misinformation was Sherman inflatable tanks which were used as dummies, particularly on D-Day, to deceive the enemy.

Garlic Chocolate

When sending spies and secret agents overseas, Great Britain had to make sure that they could blend into the local crowd by any means. Agents had to act, look, speak, and even smell appropriate.

According to Peter Taylor, author of the book Weird War Two, the story goes that agents who were sent to Spain did not have the appropriate smell because they did not eat garlic. In Britain, the attitude towards garlic at the time was not favorable. This problem was solved by adding garlic to chocolates in a bid to make it more enjoyable to eat.

It is not known whether this project was successful or not.

Itchy powder

A powder that acted as a strong skin irritant was disguised as talc and smuggled into Europe. Resistance members in occupied countries distributed this powder in clothing factories and laundry facilities where they could secretly apply it to German uniforms.

It seemed to have worked. Apparently, at least one German U-boat was forced to return to port because the sailors thought they had a strange skin condition.

The scheme was also successful in Norway, where local resistance members began putting the powder in condoms intended for German troops. The treated condoms were sent to the Trondheim Region, where the local hospital was soon filled with German soldiers.

Fake Feet

Fake feet were a good tool for masking a trail, saving time that would otherwise be spent sweeping traces. They was used by agents who landed on beaches in the Pacific theater.

“The idea was that you’d put these fake bare feet over your actual shoes and it would look as if a native was walking over the beach rather than you,” Taylor said.

Stink bombs

The British spent large sums on the development of a super smelly bomb called the S-capsule. Placed in the pocket of a German soldier, once crushed the capsule released a terrible stench which remained even after numerous cleanings.

Since winter clothes in the German army were in short supply, the soldier had to either freeze or suffer a terrible smell. The idea was that a badly smelling officer might lose credibility in the eyes of his subordinates.

The Americans also worked on a similar invention. Taylor said that in the end, “I think in both cases they had to kind give up using it because people that administered it ended up smelling as bad as the people they were aiming it at.”

Exploding poop

There are cases in which the British sent members of the Resistance members throughout Europe imitation manure filled with explosives. The idea was to leave it on the road where it would not be suspected by the drivers of vehicles that would inevitably run over it.

“The actual dung was copied from the real thing supplied by the London Zoo. And there were different kinds of dung depending on which kind of part of Europe” it was going to, Taylor said.

Exploding rats

The British proposed this idea in 1941 after a series of medical experiments. The idea was to fill rat corpses with explosives and toss them into German factories. It was assumed that eventually, one of the German employees, finding a dead rat near the furnace, would throw it into the fire. This, in turn, should have led to an explosion.

The British planned to plant booby-trapped rats in the boiler rooms of German trains, factories, factories, and power plants. In reality, this information fell into the hands of the Germans. The Germans overestimated the importance of the British project and began to spend a large amount of time guarding against it.

In turn, the British considered the project a distracting maneuver: the leakage of information caused a greater panic than the possible use of exploding rats in practice.

Laxatives

The coastline of Norway had an economy based mainly on salted fish. Thus, when the Germans announced that they were requisitioning Norway’s entire catch of sardines, people were outraged. In the ranks of the Resistance was an informant at Nazi headquarters who said that the sardines would be used to feed German troops. Canned food was supplied to U-boat crews.

At the request of Resistance members, the British sent large reserves of croton oil. This oil has a fishy taste and a strong laxative effect. Norwegians secretly delivered it to canneries, where it was mixed with vegetable oil and added to sardines. Soon after, the sardines were sent to German submarines.

In one case, this operation was a great success. However, a large-scale operation based on a laxative was never realized, since the war ended before it could be implemented.

Pink planes

Some fighters during the Second World War were so specialized that they flew only at certain times of the day. To make the aircraft less noticeable both at sunset and at sunrise, they were painted pink.

“That seems [to be] something that’s very very strange and did work surprisingly well,” Taylor said. Although camouflage on aircraft was hardly a novelty, it was a clever tactic at the time to make “invisible” airplanes thanks to pink paint.

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Military Weapons Humor –

Well here’s the problem. Part # AB5 is a Nuclear Missile. Part # AB6 is an ink cartridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Kenneth Bellin – Lidgerwood, ND; US Navy, WWII, PTO, gunner’s mate

Travis Brannon – Nashville, TN; USMC, Viper pilot, Captain, KIA

John DePace – Houston, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO

Joseph Gallagher Sr. – Philadelphia, PA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Robert Hitson – South Bend, IN; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

Howard Lee – NYC, NY; USMC, Vietnam, Captain, 2/4/3rd Marine Division, Medal of Honor

Samuel Malucci Jr.  – Northford, CT; US Army, Vietnam, 75/82nd Airborne Division, Purple Heart

Edward Sttewart – St. Paul, MN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Co. C/127 Engineers/11th Airborne Division

Risdon Westen – Boulder, CO; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Matthew Wiegand – Ambler, PA; USMC, Viper pilot, Major, KIA

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Arms Race

 

Tesla’s Death Ray

The arms race during World War Two resulted in an entire gallery of new weapons. Some of them opened completely new perspectives of conventional warfare, while others came from the edge of human imagination.

These were so-called weapons of the “New Age:” unconventional arms imagined to be so powerful that they could single-handedly win the war.

Even though the world leaders based their power on conventional arsenals, all of them still had one eye on possible weapons of the future. In the years before — as well as during — the war, these powers had been developing such weapons.

Tesla complex

With visions of Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon and so many other sci-fi characters, imaginations soared!

Some of these weapons were brought to life, as was the case with the atomic bomb, but some have never seen the light of the day. The Japanese Ku-Go “Death Ray” weapon falls into the latter category.

One of the most brilliant scientists of all times, Nikola Tesla, was one of the first to claim to have built a “death ray” weapon. He called his weapon “Teleforce” and it wasn’t designed to use any kind of rays but to project microscopic, electrically-charged particles.

Tesla’s weapon was rather complex, including several mechanisms to produce electricity of enormous force, somewhere around 60 million volts. This force required large, static power plants, estimating the cost of one such weapon station to be $2 million in 1940.

For that reason, he presented his plans first to the League of Nations and then to the leading powers of Western Democracy.

The United States Bureau of Standards rejected Tesla’s proposal as they believed it was not possible to produce such an enormous amount of energy.

British Death Ray

The British attempted to make a “death ray” weapon, which resulted in the development of radar.

The Soviet Union made some effort in obtaining Tesla’s plans, but the actual weapon was never made.

However, that which was not of interest to Allies was of interest to the Axis Nations. The article about Tesla’s “Peace Ray” published in the New York Sun and the New York Times on July 11, 1934, caught the attention of Japanese news correspondents in the United States.

When the article was presented in Japan, Tesla’s death ray received a lot of public attention.

In the late 1930s, as Japan was preparing for the war, General Yamamoto was looking for a weapon that could give him an advantage over the United States. For this purpose, he sought out one of the most prominent Japanese physicists, Yoji Ito, from the Naval Technology Research Institute.

Ito had spent several years in Germany studying the development of the atomic bomb and magnetrons, giving him the required knowledge to build such a weapon.

German Death Ray

After studying Tesla’s design, Ito and two other physicists, Maso Kotani and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga, came to the same conclusion as their American counterparts: it was impossible to create a station that could produce so much energy.

For that reason, Ito and his team turned to what they already had. Microwaves!

In 1940, the Japanese had already been working on magnetrons as part of their radar research. Ito decided that they should make a bigger, much more powerful magnetron.

This magnetron would emit a high-power beam of very short radio waves that could cause either psychological or physiological problems to enemy soldiers and even death. Ito also believed that the same principle could cause internal combustion engines to stop.

Japanese officials thought that the project could be promising. They invested 2 million yen into it which, in 1940, was around half a million US dollars.

The whole project was put under the control of General Sueyoshi Kusaba. A brand new laboratory was established at Shimada, Shiyuoka Prefecture. The weapon was codenamed Ku-Go.

Gen. Kusaba Sueyoshi, commander of Ku-Go. (his brother Tatsumi graduated West Point in 1920)

However, experiments with internal combustion engines were far less successful. Ito believed that microwaves could cause the pre-ignition of engines, but his experiments came across many obstacles.

In 1943, Ito and his team managed to stop an exposed car engine but failed to do so when the engine was protected by a hub. Experiments on an airplane engine from 1944 showed that microwaves were even weaker against well-protected engines.

Megetron, sliced open to show interior.

The largest experiment was conducted in 1944 when the first prototype of Ku-Go was built by the Japanese Radio Company.  This was an 80-centimeter magetron powered by 30 kilowatts feeding a di-pole antenna placed at the bottom of a 1-meter ellipsoid reflector.  In 1944, 80 cm magnetrons were the shortest wavelength oscillators that the Japanese were able to make.

Plans were made in 1945 to build a new weapon consisting of 4 magetrons with the output of 250 – 300 kilowatts with a di-pole antenna and 10-meter reflector.  Japanese physicists calculated that such a weapon would take ten minutes to kill a rabbit at a distance of 62 miles ( ~ 100 kilometers ).

However, the situation in the Pacific and the capitulation of Imperial Japan stopped all further research.

Click on images to enlarge.

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RAAF 98th Anniversary – 31 March

Pacific Paratrooper gives a sincere THANK YOU to the Royal Australian Air Force for being there!

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

James Bacco – Grant Town, WV; US Navy, WWII

Violet (Bambi) Carrington, IL; US Army WAC, WWII

Veterans Memorial

Ronald Helson – Cleveland, OH; US Army, Korea, 187th RCT, USAR, Lt.Col. (Ret. 30 y.)

Fred Lynn – Anderson, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, D/511/11th Airborne Division

James Mumme – Phoenix, AZ; US Navy, WWII, PTO, radioman, USS Nassau

Robert T. McDaniel – Fort Worth, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, Tuskegee

Joseph Piccirillo – No. Charleston, SC; US Navy, WWII

Harold Steinmetz (101) – Mt. Clemens, IL; US Army, WWII, PTO, Capt., 38/149th Infantry, Bronze Star, Purple Heart

Muriel Seale Toole – Washington D.C.; Civilian, US Army Quartermaster Corps

Rodney Wicox – Arnot, PA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Sgt., 11th Airborne Division

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Home Front – Wartime Recipes (3)

From: The 1940’s Experiment .

We discussed rationing and we’ve discussed just how well our parents and grandparents ate – despite the rationing and time of war when all the “good” stuff was going overseas to the troops!  So …. as promised, here are some more of the wonderful recipes from the 1940’s.

Please thank Carolyn on her website for putting these delicious meals on-line!

Recipe 61: Chocolate biscuits & chocolate spread

Recipe 62: Curried potatoes 

Recipe 63: Vegetable pasties

Recipe 64: Wheatmeal pastry

Recipe 65: Homemade croutons

Recipe 66: Quick vegetable soup

Recipe 67: Fruit Shortcake

Recipe 68: Cheese potatoes

Recipe 69: Lentil sausages

Recipe 70: Root vegetable soup

Recipe 71: Sausage rolls

Recipe 72: Eggless ginger cake

Bubble n’ squeak #78

Recipe 73: Mock duck

Recipe 74: Cheese sauce

Recipe 75: Duke pudding

Recipe 76: Potato scones

Recipe 77: Cheese, tomato and potato loaf/pie

Recipe 78: Bubble and squeak

Recipe 79: Belted leeks

Recipe 80: Lord Woolton Pie- Version 2

Recipe 81: Beef and prune hotpot

Recipe 82: Prune flan

Recipe 83: Butter making him-front style

Recipe 84: Mock apricot flan

Recipe 85: Corned beef with cabbage

Recipe 86: Oatmeal pastry

Apple brown Betty # 90

Recipe 87: Gingerbread men

Recipe 88: Carolyn’s mushroom gravy

Recipe 89: Jam sauce

Recipe 90: Brown Betty

Recipe 91: Middleton medley

Recipe 92: Rolled oat macaroons

Recipe 93: Anzac biscuits

Recipe 94: Beef or whalemeat hamburgers

Recipe 95: Lentil soup

Recipe 96: Welsh claypot loaves

Recipe 97: Chocolate oat cakes

Recipe 98: Wartime berry shortbread

Recipe 99: Oatmeal soup

Recipe 100: Mock marzipan

Click on images to enlarge.

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Home Front Humor –

“I understand you’ve been riveting in your name and address.”

“Father, would not the best way to conduct the war be to let the editors of the newspaper take charge of it?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

John Albert – So. Greensburg, PA; US Navy, WWII, air patrol

Phillip Baker – San Marcos, TX; US Army Pvt., 101st Airborne Division

The Old Guard

George Carter – Crete, IL; US Navy, WWII & Korea, SeaBee

George Ebersohl – Madison, WI; US Army, WWII, ETO, medic

Hugh Ferris – Muncie, IN; US Army, WWII, ETO, 99th Infantry

Ambrose Lopez – CO; US Navy, WWII, PTO, USS Wake Island

Robert Parnell – Hampshire, ENG; British Army, WWII, ETO, 6th Airborne Division

James Swafford – Glencoe, AL; US Army, WWII, Purple Heart

Floyd Totten – Umatilla, FL; US Army, Korea, Co. B/187th RCT

Louis Ventura – Turlock, CA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 188th/11th Airborne Division

 

Current News – USS WASP – WWII Wreck Located

A port bow view of the ship shows her aflame and listing to starboard, 15 September 1942. Men on the flight deck desperately battle the spreading inferno. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-16331, National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

The discovery of sunken wrecks seems to hold an eternal fascination. Although the quest to find them takes a huge amount of resources and technical skills, the quest goes on. Many searches have focused on the wrecks of warships lost during the Second World War. One of the most recent successes, despite many difficulties, was the discovery of USS Wasp (CV-7) deep in the Pacific Ocean.

The story of Wasp‘s end begins in September 1942. The aircraft carrier set out with 71 planes and a crew of more than 2,000 men on board to escort a convoy of US Marines to Guadalcanal, one of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. In the middle of the afternoon, Wasp was hit by Japanese torpedoes which caused serious damage.

The worst part was that the torpedoes had hit the magazine, setting off a series of explosions. The fire quickly spread, and the ship was also taking on water from the torpedo damage. Soon it began to tilt, and oil and gasoline that had spilled were set ablaze on the water. Captain Sherman had no choice but to give the order to abandon ship.

Wildcats & Spitfires on the USS Wasp, 7 April 1942

Those who were most seriously injured were lowered into life rafts. Those who could not find a place in a life raft had no choice but to jump into the sea. There they held on to whatever debris they could to keep them afloat until they were rescued.

Captain Sherman commented later that the evacuation of the ship was remarkably orderly under the circumstances. He also noted that sailors had delayed their own escapes to ensure that their injured comrades were taken off the ship first.

The first torpedoes had been spotted at 2:44 PM. By 4 PM, once he was sure that all the survivors had been removed, Captain Sherman himself abandoned ship. In that short time, Wasp had been destroyed along with many of the aircraft it was carrying, and 193 men died.

Despite the danger involved, the destroyers which had accompanied Wasp carried out a remarkable rescue operation and managed to bring 1,469 survivors to safety.

The ship drifted on for four hours until orders were given that it should be scuttled. The destroyer USS Lansdowne came to the scene, and another volley of torpedoes eventually sank the ship into the depths of the Pacific Ocean.

The discovery of the wreck was largely due to the philanthropy of the late Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. Allen had a lifelong enthusiasm for underwater exploration and a fascination with WWII wrecks. He provided the substantial sums required to fit out the Petrel exploration ship through his undersea exploration organization.

View of 5 inch gun from online room. Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc.

The quest to find Wasp looked likely to be one of their more difficult tasks. The wreck lay 2.5 miles down in an area known as an abyssal plane. There is no light and little animal life as well as massive pressure, making it one of the most inhospitable and inaccessible areas of the ocean.

Kraft and his team recalculated the possible location based on the distance between Wasp and the other two ships at the time of the torpedo attack. They realized that they needed to look much further south. It seemed that the navigator on Wasp had provided the most accurate location information after all.

Bridge of the USS Wasp

The crew once again sent out drones to scan the area and on January 14, 12 days after their mission began, they located the wreck. Despite the massive damage, Wasp could be seen clearly in the underwater photographs, sitting upright on the seabed and surrounded by helmets and other debris that served as reminders of its dramatic history and tragic end.

The exact location of the wreck remains a closely guarded secret to avoid the risk of scavengers looking for valuable relics from the ship. There are no plans to attempt to raise the wreck, but its discovery has brought satisfaction to the few remaining Wasp survivors and their families.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Chauncy Adams (101) – NZ; RNZ Army, WWII, 25th Wellington Battalion/3rd Echelon

James Baker – Farmersville, TX; US Army, WWII,PTO, Infantry, Chaplain (Ret. 20 y.)

Joseph Collette – Lancaster, OH; US Army, Afghanistan, 242 Ordnance/71st Explosive Ordnance Group, KIA

John Goodman – Birmingham, AL; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Willie Hartley – NC; US Army, Vietnam, 82nd Airborne Division

Richard Kasper – Brunswick, GA; US Army, WWII, PTO, Bronze Star

Will Lindsay – Cortez, CO; US Army, Afghanistan, Sgt., 2/10th Special Forces (Airborne), KIA

Stanley Mikuta – Cannonsburg, PA; WWII, PTO, Co. E/152nd Artillery/11th Airborne Division

Leonard Nitschke – Ashley, ND; US Army, Korea, Co. G/21/24th Infantry Division

Charles Whatmough – Pawtucket, RI; US Navy. WWII, PTO, Troop Transport cook

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Home Front – Big Timber, Montana

Welcome to Big Timber

These two articles are from The Big Timber Pioneer newspaper, Thursday, August 30, 1945

Prisoners Hanged

Ft. Leavenworth Prison Cemetery; By Gorsedwa, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/

Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Aug. 25 – The Army Saturday hanged 7 German prisoners-of-war in the Fort Leavenworth disciplinary barracks for the murder of a fellow prisoner whom they had accused of being a traitor to the Reich.

All 7 went to the gallows after receiving last rites of the Roman Catholic Church.  They were executed for killing Werner Dreschler at the Papago Park, Arizona prisoner of war camp, March 13, 1944.

The hangings took less than three hours.  The executions brought to 14 the total number of Nazi POW’s executed at Ft. Leavenworth during the last few weeks.

The 7 went to the gallows without showing any signs of emotion.  They had signed statements admitting their guilt.  Their defense was that they had read in German newspapers that they should put to death any German who was a traitor.  At their trial they said Dreschler had admitted giving information of military value to their captures.

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Sgt. Nat Clark was on Pioneer Mining Mission

313th Wing B-29 Base, Tinian – One of the 6th Bomb Group fliers who participated in the pioneer mining mission to northern Korean waters on 11 July was SSgt. Nathaniel B. Clark, son of Mr. & Mrs. J.F. Clark, Big Timber, MT. it was revealed here today with the lifting of censorship rules.  He is a left blister gunner and by war’s end had flown 29 combat missions in the war against Japan.

On the longest mission of the war, to deny the use of the eastern Korean ports to the already partially blockaded Japanese, Sgt. Clark explained that the crews were briefed to fly 3,500 statute miles to their mine fields just south of Russia, and back to Iwo Jima where they would have to land for fuel.  Then it was still 725 miles back to the Tinian base.

The flight was planned to take 16½ hours which in itself was not out of the ordinary, but the length of time the full mine load would be carried was a record 10 hours and 35 minutes.

Loading an aerial mine layer

The job called for hair-splitting navigation, Midas-like use of the available gas, penetration of weather about which little is known and finally a precision radar mine-laying run over a port whose defenses and very contours were not too well known.

“We sweated that one out from our briefing one morning until we landed back on Tinian almost 24 hours later.” Sgt. Clark recalled.

radar mine

One crew was forced to return to Okinawa because of engine trouble, but the other 5 on the pioneer flight landed within a few minutes of the briefed time.  One landed at the exact briefed time.  The closest call on gas was reported by the crew which landed with only 24 gallons left, scarcely enough to circle the field.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Herman Brown – Virginia Beach, VA; US Army, WWII, ETO, 385/76th Division/ 3rd Army

Lester Burks – Willis, TX; US Army, Co. B/513/17th Airborne Division

Pedro ‘Pete’ Contreras – Breckenridge, OK; US Army, WWII, Korea & Vietnam, Lt.Col. (Ret. 30 y.)

Paul Jarret – Phoenix, AZ; US Army, WWII, ETO, Medical Corps, Bronze Star / US Air Force

John ‘Nick’ Kindred – Scarsdale, NY; US Navy, Lt.

James Lemmons – Portland, TN; US Army; Korea, HQ/187th RCT

Charles McCarry – Plainfield, MA; CIA, Cold War, undercover agent

Howard Rein Jr. – Philadelphia, PA; US Navy, WWII, PTO

Morton Siegel – Rye, NY; US Navy, WWII

Eldon Weehler – Loup City, NE; US Army Air Corps, WWII / US Air Force, Korea & Vietnam, Lt. Col. (Ret. 30 y.)

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